Pic: BJSS Thunderbolts players celebrate after beating Politeknik Malaysia in Division One of the JHL.
SABAH Sports School (SSMS Resilient) are not afraid of facing Junior Hockey League (JHL) 2016 Overall champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) Thunderbolts in the TNB Cup quarter-finals Friday.
SSMS Resilient emerged as Division Two League champions without dropping a single point in six matches, and then won the Overall title by beating SSTMI Juniors 3-1 in the final.
Resilient coach Sharil Izam knows that his charges will most likely face an uphill battle against BJSS Thunderbolts, but he is the least worried.
"MY players have yet to lose a match in Division Two, but that does not mean we are a very strong side. The quarter-finals will be a real challenge as we will be playing against a team which is of a higher standard -- but we are not afraid of them and are up to the challenge," said Sharil.
In the six League matches, resilient scored 45 goals and let in 11. And in the Overall knock-out, they beat MBMB Warriors and PHA-USM and then knocked out SSTMI Juniors with ease.
The player to watch is Muhajir Abdu Rauf who top-scored in Division Two with a total of 19 goals -- 15 field, one penalty corner and three penalty strokes.
Nasrul Syahkir, with 10 field goals, is the other Resilient Top Gun.
"We drafted four players from the recent Under-16 tournament into the JHL side, and they did not disappoint," said Sharil who has been coaching the side for the last five years.
Sabah finished fourth in the National Under-16.
"This team has been together for five years and have started to show some promise. We were unlucky in the Under-16, but showed good form in the JHL to gain promotion into Division One next season.
"So, even though BJSS are the raging favourites, we have nothing to lose and will fight for every inch of the pitch to qualify for the semi-finals," said Sharil.
BJSS, on the other hand, have had a tough season in Division One and could only finish third in the League.
The BJSS players to watch are Amirul Mirza (10 goals) and Ramdan Arifin (eight goals) -- the second and third top-scorers.
FRIDAY -- Division One Quarter-finals: PJCC Tigers v Anderson Thunderbolts (Pandamaran Stadium, 5pm), MSP-Thunderbolts v SSTMI Juniors (Kuantan, 5pm), SSTMI Thunderbolts v Johor Juniors (SSTMI, 5pm), BJSS Thunderbolts v SSMS Resilient (KLHA, 5pm).
SUNDAY -- Women's semi-finals: SSTMI v MSN Kedah (KLHA, 4pm), PSHA-USM v KLSS-Wipers (KLHA, 6pm).